50 years of Colonization
Alexander Solzhenitsyn described the Chinese rule in Tibet “more brutal and inhumane than any other communist regime in the world”. In the 1960s, the International Commission of Jurists found, after extensive investigations, that China had committed acts of genocide in Tibet. The United Nations passed three resolutions in 1959, 1961, and 1965 expressing their “grave concern” over the violations of fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people and stated that the Tibetan people were deprived of their inalienable rights to self-determination. Notwithstanding all these universal condemnations China continued its dubious rule in Tibet.
During the past half century, over 1.2 million Tibetans died in Tibet as a result of Chinese atrocities. Over 6,000 monasteries and the institutes of learning have been destroyed and precious artifacts have been vandalised and sold in art markets in Hong Kong and western countries. 60% of Tibetan religious and historical literatures have been burned. Tibetans are denied of the basic rights of expression, speech, movement, religion, etc. Tibetan women are subjected to forced abortion and sterilisation. Tibetan children are denied of their childhood and basic education.
70% of the Tibetans are still illiterate. Arbitrary arrest, repression, torture, intimidation, imprisonment have been the regular feature for the last 50 years. The 11th Panchen Lama Gedun Choekyi Nyima and his entire family disappeared, believed to be under house arrest in China, just a few days after he was recognised the reincarnation of 10th Panchen Lama by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on May 14, 1995 followed by arrest of Chatral Rinpoche, the abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery-the seat of Panchen Lama. The state has directly interfered with the religious freedom of individuals and imposed fake Panchen Lama in November 1995. Thousands of Tibetans still languish in various Chinese prisons. Most of them are young people, who are below 25 years age. Majority of Tibetans still live in their old homes while Chinese reside in new colonies with modern amenities. Tibetans are forced to live in the high hills while Chinese occupy all the low and fertile lands. 7.5 millions Chinese have outnumbered 6 million Tibetans in Tibet. Tibet has been amputed to six parts and what the Chinese refers to (Tibet Autonomous Region) constitute only about half of the original Tibet. The other five divisions are incorporated to neighbouring Chinese provinces. Tibet’s fragile environment has been divested. Majority of Tibet’s forest have been cleared and mineral resources exploited. Tibet’s wildlife has nearly become extinct and today Tibet looks more barren then ever.
One of the most alarming features of China’s present colonial policy is the large-scale, unprecedented transfer of Chinese population into Tibet. The real fear is that if the present Chinese policy becomes successful, Tibetans will be reduced to a small and insignificant minority in their own country, in the same way as the Manchus (35 Chinese to 1 Manchu), the Turkish people (3 to 1) and the Mongolians (5 to 1) have been. The object of this policy is to forcibly “resolve” China’s massive territorial claims over Tibet by means of a massive and irreversible population shift. The current policy began in 1983 as the “final solution” to China’s Tibet problems. The encouragement of the Chinese civilian to settle in Tibet was admitted by Deng Xiaoping and other Chinese government officials. As a result of the implementation of this policy, today 6 million Tibetans in Tibet are outnumbered by 7.5 million Chinese. In the Tibetan province of Amdo, which is now turned into Chinese province called Qinghai, out of the total population of 4.45 million in 1990 (according to China’s own statistic) only 20% are Tibetans and rest are Chinese. The situation is even worst in Kham province where all the major towns like Dartsedo, Derge, Kanze and Markham are reported to be inhibited by 95 – 100% Chinese. Today, Chinese population in Kham alone is reported to be well over 3.6 million. The situation in U-Tsang (in the so-called TAR) in the Central Tibet is comparatively better. However, even in U-Tsang, Chinese have outnumbered the Tibetans in all the major towns and cities. The Chinese population in U-Tsang is estimated over 2 million.
The situation is further deteriorating, as Beijing is accelerating the population transfer by shifting more Chinese civilian, this time to Central Tibet. In 1992 alone thousands of fresh Chinese civilians settled in Central Tibet. Tibetans in Tibet fear that over a million Chinese displaced by the massive `Three Gorges Project’ will be re-located in Central Tibet. Economic projects are initiated in Tibet mainly to entice Chinese immigrants to move to Tibet rather than to benefit Tibetans.
Before the Chinese invasion, Tibet had the most successful system of environmental protection. Formal protection of wildlife and wild lands though parks and reserves were unnecessary as Tibetan Buddhism taught the people about the interdependence of all living things and work around the problem. the interrelationships among the whole spectrum of plant and animal life, human beings, as well as “non-living being” elements. People lived in close harmony with the nature.
Today, under the Chinese rule, the systematic destruction of environment of Tibet is unprecedented. The rich wildlife, forests, plants, minerals and water resources have all suffered irreplaceable degradation and Tibet’s fragile ecological balance is being seriously disturbed.
Research indicates that the Chinese authorities denuded some 54 Billion dollars worth of timber at the end of 1985 from the rich forest reserves of Tibet. In Amdo province alone, nearly 50 million trees have been felled since 1955 and millions of acres of forest area amounting to at least 70% cleared. A similar condition prevails in other parts of Tibet, particularly in eastern and southern Tibet. The massive and unchecked deforestation in Tibet is causing irreversible soil erosion and also increases the deposits of silt in the rivers, which in turn causes landslides and reduces potential farming land. Since Tibet is the source of the major rivers in Asia, there is a serious threat to environmental conditions in South and South-Eastern Asia – as seen every year, the tragic floods in India and Bangladesh. The deforestation in Tibet also increased the risk of imbalancing the monsoon which then may herald disaster to Indian agriculture.
The large influx of Chinese population in Tibet has compelled the Tibetans to restrict their grazing land and thus in turn encourages overgrazing the available pasture land. The continuing practice of overgrazing results not only in dramatic reduction in the grass yield but also accelerates the desertification of whole of Tibet. This pattern will have serious effect on the global climatic condition.
The systematic and large-scale mining in Tibet began in the early 1960’s and has been continuing since then. Today, Chinese authorities are extracting over 126 different types of minerals in Tibet, which includes uranium and oil. The unrestrained exploitation of mineral resources in Tibet poses serious threat to the survival of the remaining rain forest in Tibet.
The flourishing wildlife of Tibet have been virtually wiped out by the Chinese. There were once bears, wolves, wild geese, ducks, blue sheep, antelopes, snow leopards, panda etc. Most of them have now become almost extinct.
China has turned the once peaceful and buffer state between India and China into a vast military zone. China’s occupation forces serve to keep Peking’s control over the Tibetan people and to further China’s strategic aims in the region. The militarization of the Tibetan plateau profoundly affects the geopolitical balance of the region and cause serious international tension.
With the Chinese occupation on Tibet, Indian and Chinese troops today face each other on the Himalayan border for the first time in history. The first ever bloody war between the two countries was fought in 1962, three years after the Chinese occupation on Tibet. China’s ongoing assistance to Pakistan in building up nuclear power, large concentration of military personnel and nuclear build up in Tibet, military infiltration in India and persistent assistance to the military regime of Burma and particularly to build up a naval base in the Bay of Bengal further destabilize the Indian sub-continent.
Today Chinese military presence in Tibet includes an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 troops, of which 200,000 are permanently stationed in Central Tibet near the Indian border; 17 secret radar stations; 14 military airfields; 5 missile bases (Kongpo Nyitri, Powo Tramo, Rudok, Golmu and Nagchu) with the majority of them near the Indian border; at least 8 ICBMs, 70 medium range missiles and 20 intermediate range missiles. Besides, China also utilizes Tibet for Chemical warfare exercise and dumping nuclear waste from other countries. The recent report published by the International Campaign for Tibet, an independent organisation based in Washington, USA, confirms the existence of a Chinese nuclear station in Tibet, “Ninth Academy” near Lake Kokonor in Amdo province.